Posted on February 26, 2016
Writing a Socially Responsible Business Plan
“Business as usual” is no longer the norm – with the uprise in Millennial sway over business, the values that customers used to hold are taking new shape. Traditional advertising from the past was able to shape perceptions and desires by dictating what is cool/sexy/noteworthy/trustworthy. Then consumers started to ask, “what’s in it for me?” With the rise of social media and the constant noise of online chatter, advertisers needed to stand out by providing value, be it utility or shock value.
We’re now seeing the shift of business towards social responsibility. That’s not to say business plans were not incorporating progressive values, be them green initiatives or social funding ventures, before. But now we have the Millennial force starting to drive things, and those initiatives that were once half-assed are now taking front seat.
“Millennials represent about a fourth of the entire population, with $200 billion in annual buying power.
They have a lot of influence over older generations and are trendsetters across all industries from fashion to food. Companies have been struggling connecting with this generation because many of the traditional methods of advertising have proven ineffective at capturing their attention.” Forbes, 10 New Findings About The Millennial Consumer
“Millennials want meaning both at work and at home. In fact, they demand it.” Forbes, Business Not As Usual: The Millennial Social Entrepreneur
This is why we’re seeing the uptrend in social entrepreneurship (entrepreneurs aiming to utilize business techniques to find solutions to social problems), with business efforts migrating from a pure focus on profit, to a mixed focus on profit and making the world a better place, be it planting trees, donating clothes to those in need, providing safe harbor to victims of abuse, or providing services to others wanting to start up their own ventures.
These changes in the business ecosystem have birthed the need to broaden the old-school business plan of yore. Key points to consider when developing your business plan should include:
- How to communicate with your prospects and customers across various generations, taking into consideration what each type of consumer values
- On the same page, how to attract and retain employees across various generations
- How to address problems when they arise, including PR issues, with every-day use of social media being the norm
- How has your competition branded themselves, and how are they connecting with today’s consumers?
You don’t necessarily need your business goals to include “making the world a better place,” but you will need to address how to build trust with your prospects and customers, and that will vary depending on who your target audience is. Above all, keep in mind that adaptability is key.